This content was reviewed and approved for its accuracy on 14/04/2021 by Professor Frank Joseph

Photograph of Professor Frank Joseph, weight loss expert for myBMI

Does Semaglutide have side effects?

 

Semaglutide is a prescription medication, which means that it has the potential to cause side effects in anyone that takes it.

 

However, not everyone will experience side effects, though some may find that they experience them fairly intensely.

 

Unfortunately, this can be a bit like a lottery, as each individual reacts differently to medications.

 

The only way to find out if you can tolerate it or not is to try it if your doctor or prescriber has agreed that it’s safe for you.

 

Luckily, most people that do experience side effects from Semaglutide say that they go away on their own within a few weeks of treatment, and are usually bearable once you’ve made some changes to minimise the risk of certain symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

 

If you do experience any side effects whilst taking Semaglutide, myBMI is here to help.

 

Simply get in touch with us and explain your symptoms, and we can prescribe suitable supporting treatments to help you deal with any side effects that you encounter – all included in the cost of your consultation.

 

What are the side effects of Semaglutide?

 

Side effects are a risk of any medication that you take, and Semaglutide is no exception to this.

 

However, most of the side effects that are reported seem to be gastrointestinal in nature due to the way the medication works within the body.

 

Some of the most common complaints from patients taking Semaglutide include:

According to the patient information leaflet, these side effects are known to affect around 1 in 10 people, or 10% of patients that use Semaglutide.

 

Whilst that sounds like a lot, most people state that they only experience these symptoms mildly and that they disappear after a few weeks once your body has become accustomed to the medication being in your system.

 

However, if you do experience any of these side effects to an intense or severe degree whilst taking Semaglutide, you should speak to your doctor or prescriber about it and see if it’s suitable for you to continue taking it or not.

 

With certain side effects such as gall stones, it should be noted that this is a complication of rapid weight loss regardless of whichever method you use.

 

This is because when you lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time, the liver secretes more cholesterol into bile, which can contribute to the production of gall stones in the gallbladder.

 

So, this side effect may not necessarily be directly related to Semaglutide, but could have more to do with the fact that it helps with weight loss by reducing your appetite.

 

Can Semaglutide cause headaches?

 

Whilst Semaglutide hasn’t been reported to cause headaches on its own, other side effects of it may result in you developing a headache for certain reasons.

 

For example, if you experience vomiting or diarrhoea from taking Semaglutide, this can lead to dehydration which often presents as a headache.

 

The best way of combating a headache caused by dehydration is to make sure that you’re drinking plenty of water.

 

If you feel nauseous, it’s best to take small sips often rather than big gulps of water.

 

Keeping yourself hydrated is incredibly important at all times, but especially if you’re experiencing side effects that can cause you to become dehydrated.

 

 

Another side effect that may cause a headache is hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels), but this is rare unless you’re already taking another medication that can help to lower your blood sugar, such as metformin or other medicines for diabetes.

 

Hypoglycaemia is known to cause headaches as well as dizziness, sweating and shaking amongst others.

 

If you experience any of these symptoms alongside a headache, you should try to eat or drink something sugary in order to raise your blood sugar levels.

 

Try not to stand up too quickly, and wait around 10-15 minutes before moving around to make sure that the sugar has had a chance to get into your bloodstream.

 

If you still don’t feel better after this, you should seek medical advice by either calling your own doctor or dialling 111 for advice.

 

If you keep experiencing headaches that aren’t accompanied by other symptoms or alleviated by drinking water, you should speak to your prescriber or doctor about it and ask about whether or not  could be the cause.

 

Why does Semaglutide cause sulphur burps?

 

Unfortunately, another common side effect of Semaglutide are burps that smell of sulphur or eggs (sulphur generally tends to give off an eggy type of odour).

 

Semaglutide is known to cause excess gas in around 1 in 10 users, so flatulence and burping are a couple of the more common side effects.

 

This is because Semaglutide works in the gut and generally does tend to cause gastrointestinal side effects, which explains why you may feel more gassy than normal.

 

The eggy or sulphuric smell that comes from the burps is often a new and unpleasant experience for many that start taking GLP-1 receptor agonists (the same side effects have been noted with similar medicines such as Saxenda and Trulicity), but most find that they do subside on their own within a few weeks.

 

Why does Semaglutide make me nauseous?

 

Nausea is one of the most common side effects when you start taking Semaglutide.

 

Most people that do experience nausea say that it worsens when they increase their dose, but that it subsides after a few weeks.

 

Once you’re taking the maintenance dose (usually 1mg for most patients, or 2mg for those on the surge plan), you may experience increased nausea for a couple of weeks until your body adjusts to the new dose, at which point it should then decrease to a bearable point.

 

There are also other reasons why you may feel sick whilst taking Semaglutide.

 

Because Semaglutide reduces your appetite, it can be easy whilst you’re getting used to it to eat more than you need to feel satisfied.

 

When you eat more than you need to, or if you eat past a point of feeling full, you’re more likely to experience nausea and vomiting, especially with Semaglutide as it causes delayed gastric emptying (slower emptying of the stomach).

 

One way to combat nausea caused by Semaglutide is to eat less food, so you can either put less on your plate to begin with, or accept that you may not finish the full meal that’s on your plate.

 

Once you start to get used to your new appetite, you should find it easier to adjust your portion sizes accordingly.

 

Certain foods (especially those with a high fat content) can also cause nausea in some patients that take Semaglutide.

 

Many patients that take Semaglutide report that eating small amounts of food more often helps them to combat nausea.

 

You might find that you need to adjust your mealtimes or what you eat in order to reduce nausea.

 

However, if you’re still struggling after making these changes and making sure that you aren’t eating too much, you should contact us and speak to us about your symptoms.

 

We may be able to prescribe you a supporting treatment to help you deal with any sickness you might experience as a result of Semaglutide.

 

Can Semaglutide make you feel tired?

 

Tiredness is listed as a common side effect of Semaglutide on the patient information leaflet, affecting around 10% of users, so it’s entirely possible that if you’re feeling tired, it could be down to Semaglutide.

 

However, this should subside within a few weeks.

 

There could be other reasons for your tiredness, too.

 

For example, if you’re starting to exercise more and increase your physical activity levels, this can also make you feel tired as you’re using more energy.

 

If you find that you’re excessively tired and that it’s affecting your daily life, you should speak to your doctor or prescriber about anything else that may have changed, or if Semaglutide could be causing your symptoms.

 

Most people that experience fatigue whilst taking Semaglutide say that it is bearable, and subsides on its own once your body has had chance to get used to the medication.

 

Can Semaglutide cause pancreatitis?

 

It’s rare, but Semaglutide can cause acute pancreatitis in some people.

 

According to the patient information leaflet, this only affects around 1 in 100, so roughly 1% of Semaglutide users are likely to experience acute pancreatitis.

 

When taking Semaglutide, it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether you’re experiencing common side effects or if you’re developing pancreatitis.

 

This is because the medication and the condition share some of the same symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and indigestion.

 

However, with pancreatitis, you’re also likely to experience severe pain in the centre of your stomach and in your back that doesn’t go away.

 

Alongside this, you may also have a raised temperature, jaundice, and potentially a fast heartbeat.

 

If you do experience any symptoms of acute pancreatitis whilst taking Semaglutide, you should seek urgent medical help.

 

If your GP surgery is open, you should try to see your own doctor, but otherwise, please call 111 for urgent advice.

 

It’s important to remember that most people who take Semaglutide don’t experience acute pancreatitis, but it’s still essential that you’re aware of the symptoms so that you can act quickly and minimise any illness if it happens to you.

 

Can Semaglutide cause thrush?

 

Thrush isn’t mentioned as a side effect on any official documentation for any forms of Semaglutide, so it shouldn’t be an issue for most people.

 

However, those with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of experiencing thrush due to increased blood glucose levels.

 

If you do experience thrush when taking Semaglutide, you should speak to a local pharmacist about treatments that you may be able to use.

 

Most treatments for thrush don’t require a prescription.

 

Genital thrush is more common in women than in men, and there are a multitude of different causes for it, so it may be your underwear, scented hygiene products, or even bath bombs in some cases that could be the culprit for a yeast infection.

 

However, if you do experience thrush either for the first time or more often since starting Semaglutide, you should speak to your doctor or prescriber about it so that the cause can be determined.

 

Can Semaglutide affect your eyes?

 

Semaglutide has been known to worsen diabetic eye disease in some cases (1 in 10 users), but it’s important to remember that most people with this condition will already have established type 2 diabetes.

 

The risk of experiencing diabetic retinopathy if you don’t have diabetes is incredibly low, as it is usually affected by high blood glucose levels that damage the retina.

 

Semaglutide hasn’t been linked to any other eye problems, so those without diabetes shouldn’t experience any issues.

 

However, if you do notice your eyesight getting worse after starting Semaglutide, you should consult your GP, as you may have an underlying condition that you aren’t aware of.

 

In summary, unless you already have diabetes, you shouldn’t need to worry about Semaglutide affecting your eyesight – but it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for any changes anyway.

 

Do Semaglutide side effects go away?

 

Semaglutide side effects will often go away or lessen as you continue with your treatment.

 

This happens because your body is getting used to how the medication affects you, so over time your side effects will reduce as your body adjusts to treatment.

 

This is why your dose of Semaglutide will be increased gradually (titrated) during the first few months of your treatment — it gives your body the chance to get used to the medication bit by bit without overwhelming you with side effects.

 

With that being said, you shouldn’t ignore your side effects and hope they’ll just go away.

 

If you have any concerns about the side effects you’re experiencing or the treatment in general you should speak to your prescriber or healthcare team about it.

 

They’ll be able to get a good idea of whether your side effects are a normal part of taking Semaglutide and likely to subside, or whether they’re a sign that this medication isn’t suitable for you.

 

You’re taking Semaglutide to improve your health, not worsen it, so if your side effects indicate that this medication isn’t for you, you may want to work with your healthcare team to try something new.

 

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